The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: / +44 207 553 8160

Government 'Needs More Time' to Explain Kenya Torture Role


UK officials have delayed responding to allegations that they were complicit in the torture and sentencing to death of a Kenyan tribesman.

Lawyers for the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Metropolitan Police exceeded their deadline to respond to pre-action letters from legal charity Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day. The letters relate to their involvement in the death sentence handed to Ali Babitu Kololo, a 35-year-old father of two from a village in Lamu, Kenya.

Mr Kololo was sentenced to death for robbery with violence by a Kenyan court in August 2013 after he was tortured by local police into 'confessing' to leading kidnappers to the camp where the 2011 kidnapping of British tourist Judith Tebbutt, and the murder of her husband David took place.

Following the sentencing, British officials from the Metropolitan Police and Foreign Office praised the "great skill and tenacity" of the British police team, calling the outcome "welcome" and a "positive development".

Reprieve and Leigh Day are seeking a judicial review of the official UK support for the Kenyan investigation. A letter sent to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, head of the Metropolitan Police, says: "The support provided by the British authorities to the prosecution in Mr Kololo's case was unlawful [...] The unfairness is particularly acute in a context where it entails a real risk to an individual's life, as it did in the present case."

This week, lawyers for the Metropolitan Police declined to respond to the allegations by their own deadline of 9 June, while the Home Office and Foreign Office recently asked for a further three weeks.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve's death penalty team, said: "There is strong evidence that Mr Kololo is innocent of this crime. The fact that the British government supported his unfair trial and sentencing to death is alarming enough - but the government's failure to respond to questions in a timely manner suggests a dangerous reluctance to be held accountable for its actions, all while Ali Kololo languishes on death row. The Home Office, FCO and the Met must respond to these very serious allegations without delay."

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantanamo Bay.